Exotic animals escape Ohio farm; owner found dead

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Matt Lutz

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz speaks to the media about exotic animals loose in Zanesville, Ohio. Dozens of animals escaped from a wild-animal preserve that houses bears, big cats and other beasts, and the owner later was found dead there, said police, who shot several of the animals and urged nearby residents to stay indoors. (Trevor Jones / AP Photo / October 18, 2011)

 

Associated Press

October 18, 2011, 10:44 p.m.

 
ZANESVILLE, Ohio — Dozens of exotic animals escaped Tuesday from a wild animal preserve that houses bears, big cats and other beasts, and the owner was found dead there, said police, who shot several of the creatures and urged residents to stay indoors.

The fences had been left unsecured at the Muskingum County Animal Farm in Zanesville, and the animals’ cages were open, police said. They wouldn’t say what animals escaped but said the preserve had lions, wolves, tigers, giraffes, camels and bears. Bears and wolves were among 25 animals that were shot and killed, police said, and there were multiple sightings of exotic animals along a nearby highway.

“These are wild animals that you would see on TV in Africa,” Sheriff Matt Lutz warned at a news conference.

He called the escaped animals “mature, very big, aggressive,” but said a caretaker told authorities the preserve’s 48 animals had been fed on Monday. Police were patrolling the 40-acre farm and the surrounding areas in cars, not on foot, he said, and were concerned that big cats and bears could be hiding.

“This is a bad situation,” Lutz said. “It’s been a situation for a long time.”

Lutz said his office started getting phone calls about 5:30 p.m. that wild animals were loose just west of town on a road that runs under Interstate 70.

He said four deputies with assault rifles in a pickup truck went to the animal farm, where they found the farm’s owner, Terry Thompson, dead and all the animal cage doors open. He wouldn’t say how Thompson died but said several aggressive animals were near his body and had to be shot.

Thompson, who lived on the property, had orangutans and chimps in cages in his home, but they were still in their cages, Lutz said.

The deputies, who saw many animals standing outside their cages and others that had escaped past the fencing surrounding the property, began shooting them. There had been no reports of injuries among the public.

Staffers from the Columbus Zoo went to the scene, hoping to tranquilize and capture the animals. The sheriff said caretakers might put food in the animals’ cages to try to lure them back.

Lutz said people should stay indoors and he might ask schools to close Wednesday. At least four area school districts canceled classes.

Lutz said his main concern was protecting the public.

“Any kind of cat species or bear species is what we are concerned about,” he said. “We don’t know how much of a head start these animals have on us.”

A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which usually handles native wildlife, such as deer, said state Division of Wildlife officers were helping the sheriff’s office deal with the situation in Zanesville, a city of about 25,000 in the east-central part of the state.

“This is, I would say, unique,” spokeswoman Laura Jones said

 
 
 
 
**Thank you to Los Angeles Times for this info & image**
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About Mommy's Little Rugrat Princess

What can I say I love my family!! I love God who's been great to me throughout the years and helped me get pass the rocky road I was headed down. He's blessed my family and I in so many ways that words can't even describe. I thank God for everything in my life especially blessing me with such a wonderful family. I love deals, freebies, samples, coupons, sweepstakes, contests, instant win games, products, reviews,and of course my favorite GIVEAWAYS !!! I love learning about new products that will probably never reach my hometown. This is why I love giveaways so much, by winning something that no one has ever heard of or ever seen here in this little town. I love sharing with them all about the product and what it does. Then their always wondering where they can get their own!! :) I love dealing with companies and learning about how they started. I think it's very interesting learning about their background and where they came from. What can I say I'm a simple girl from a small town who loves the 21st century! I've only been doing this since January, 2011 and have saved my family a lot whether it may be food, toys, clothes, hygiene products, household items, or just going out for a family outing. I found this is my passion and I love doing what I do. I love writing and hope this will be an awesome blog for you!! Well, that's all about me for now! ;)

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